There are times as a coach especially during this time of year when tryouts are coming up the emails start rolling in about players looking for a new team. Of course there are always things that happen when it comes to teams folding, coaches and players moving on. Sometimes there isn’t anything the player did wrong they just find themselves in a position where they are looking for a new team. Other times the player may realize the game isn’t for them anymore and they decide to move on to other areas of focus. There are many players though that are perpetually looking for a new team every single year or two. This is what should be avoided.
In this easy come easy go instant society we find ourselves in there is something to be said for loyalty. There is something incredibly powerful and worthy about sticking with something that is challenging and a bit painful at times. Learning to stick with it is critical to life success. Not everything worth fighting for happens on the first try. There are many parties that have to be loyal to each other when it comes to the team working towards a common goal. Coaches, parents and players play a role in the commitment to each other at the community team level. The truth is the higher the level of play the more challenging it is to stick together because the competition for each role increases so much more. People’s jobs are on the line and it becomes more of a business at higher levels.
For parents, teaching commitment and loyalty is critical to the development of the athlete. You play a huge role in anchoring their decisions early on. It goes far beyond the court and echoes into their life with the choices they will make going forward. When things get hard do you encourage your athlete to keep going and sticking with it or do you teach them to jump at the next opportunity as soon as possible? This will become repeatable in their lives through relationships, jobs and even other team opportunities.
Make sure you have tried everything you can to have your child be part of the team and be successful. There are sometimes when dynamics of the team are harmful to the growth of your child if their coach is abusive in some way then by all means remove them. However, there are a lot of times when your hopes, dreams and aspirations can get in the way of your player’s success just because you are blinded by your desire for them. Your desire for their success shelters them from the reality of where they are as an athlete in terms of needing to develop, get stronger and be better.
For players, it can be very tempting to see the grass is always greener with another team. New coaches may try to entice you over to a different team or you might see the players you are going to play with and think it will be better. The truth is it may be a bit better but sometimes it is a lot worse. The truth is sometimes there are opportunities to be seized but there is a big difference between running away from something and going towards another opportunity. Not burning bridges is critical to making a successful move forward. Think about the coach and the teammates you are leaving behind before making the decision. Sometimes staying with a team that has your back and where you are in a good position is better than leaping for a very big unknown. There is something to be said for players that stay and make their situation ideal and being a leader on their team instead of a follower on somebody else’s team.
For coaches, there are moments when we can do a better job of being loyal too. When you consistently have many players leaving year after year it is important to acknowledge your short comings as a coach. As there may be reasons why they are leaving all of the time so try to figure it out. There are sometimes where players don’t fit your philosophy and so they might choose to move on themselves. There are sometimes when a player is getting left behind and they may have success somewhere else. There is also a time when another player might be a better fit for your team so room has to be made. However, if we expect our players to be loyal to us it has to be a two way street. If you are preaching loyalty and cutting a bunch of your players every year then it is hard for long term relationships and trust to be maintained. It is up to you to set the tone for your team and build the relationships over your time together that way when adversity hits it pulls the team together instead of ripping it apart. The truth is if players feel like they are getting better with your team most of them will stay and continue to grow.
Whether you are a coach, parent or player it is really important that if you are going to leave the team always do your best to leave once the season is over. Leaving in the middle of the season is an incredibly selfish act. Learn to finish what you at least started before making a clean break.